While confidence in Victoria Falls as a destination has dropped significantly in 2020 – largely due to the COVID-19 pandemic and perceptions of health and safety – 41% of the region’s trade partners believe it is now safe to travel to Victoria Falls, with European agents reporting most confidence from their client base.
This is according to a Future Traveller Sentiment report commissioned by the ‘We are Victoria Falls’ collaborative – an independent, public-private partnership initiative representing the tourism community of Victoria Falls.
The initiative was formed under the direction of the Ministry of Environment, Climate Change, Tourism and Hospitality Industry (MECTHI) and focuses on providing all stakeholders with reliable, up-to-date information on the destination’s management of COVID-19 as well as to provide verified updates on destination readiness, openness and progress for receiving visitors.
The survey polled 124 trade partners from many of Zimbabwe’s key source markets. A total of 85% of respondents surveyed have existing business relationships with Zimbabwean operators and have booked Zimbabwean products. The other 15% of respondents have not booked Zimbabwean products but are considering it in the future.
Respondents suggested that clarity, transparency and alignment with other SADC countries as far as COVID-19 screening, testing and quarantine protocols are concerned, are important to provide peace-of-mind to travellers over the next six months, and to encourage them to travel to the destination.
The survey also revealed that the standard and capacity of medical and evacuation facilities in Victoria Falls has become more important as travellers are more conscious of their health.
Other key takeaways from the report include:
- 80% of respondents indicate that nature-based safari lodges or camps will be the preferred accommodation choice of travellers over the next five years
- Results show an above 90% preference for properties located within wilderness areas. For those considering booking Zimbabwe, wilderness areas ranked highest, followed by a combination of both rural and urban-based properties as a preference for their clients
- Smaller groups will dominate in future, with 80% of respondents believing that groups of 2-6 people will be their most important market
- Almost 70% of respondents believe private vehicles will be the preferential in-destination transport option
- Pricing, awareness and ease of access are priority areas for improvement
- Over 85% agents report flexible Terms & Conditions as a priority to encourage return of travellers
EDITOR’S NOTE: Report methodology and demographics
This report is based on an international trade survey conducted between October 15 and November 15, 2020 by ‘We Are Victoria Falls’ on behalf of the Ministry of Environment, Climate, Tourism and Hospitality Industry (MECTHI) and Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA).
A total of 124 responses were received from a diverse range of trade partners; 28% from trade partners whose businesses are headquartered in North America, 17% from the UK and Europe and 13% from Australasia. 40% of respondents have their businesses headquartered in Southern Africa, however the majority of these respondents operate as wholesalers/DMCs servicing the international trade, and therefore it is assumed that their responses are based on the sentiment of their international clients.
The report provides a regular snapshot of data for the purposes of both public- and private-sector planning. The data shows the requirements of future travellers, their demographics and profiles – as well as their future demands for product, access and enabling factors in Victoria Falls. The survey will be repeated on a regular basis to track change over time.